Many of us will participate in building smart machines
„The Disruptive Era of Smart Machines Is Upon Us“ – this is how Gartner analyst Tom Austin titled his influential 2013 study. Artificial intelligence has come back indeed. Hardly a day goes by without a new study or article about cognitive computing, smart machines and intelligent systems. The amount of media attention may create the impression of a basic technical breakthrough: „The algorithm for human intelligence has been invented in a garage somewhere in California and now sets out to change the world – without any involvement from our side.“
The opposite is true: we are not facing a technology-based, general-purpose intelligence. The new AI means is many human brains in many companies from all industry sectors working hard to add intelligence to their products, services and processes – building smart machines that are very specific for their domain and based on their own human expertise. The era of smart machines will not come without our contribution. An when I say „our“, I am talking about us lawyers, civil engineers, consultants and doctors – not only about computer scientists.
Many of us will participate in automating and formalising our knowledge for a new digital economy – to make products more accessable and to integrate them into new value networks, to make services more helpful, to automate and to safeguard processes. Being an expert in any domain – whether medical diagnosis, legal or investment advice, product development or configuration – will involve a new kind of communication with machines. We will have to learn how to explain our expertise to software systems, how to understand their output and their recommendations but also to develop a feeling for their limitations.
In this equation, content is as important as technology, the human mind as important as the artificial one. That’s why I think events like the Smart Data Conference are so important. And this is why I feel that smart machines should not and will not be black boxes. Check out my Session „Semantic Modeling for Automated Decisions“ – I am looking forward to meeting you in San Jose in August.